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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Cold Fusion Report

From the Office of Science at the DOE, a critically reviewed report of progress in the last 10 years of "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions" presents unsurprisingly ambivalent advice. The telling advice near the end:
While significant progress has been made in the sophistication of calorimeters since the review of this subject in 1989, the conclusions reached by the reviewers today are similar to those found in the 1989 review.

The key conundrum reviewers keep on harping on involves the energy formed as heat in the reaction. The expected nuclear reactions involving the basic particles produces gamma rays. No one sees the rays or they occur near the noise background level.
According to the review document, no high energy gamma rays appear to accompany the 4 He, as is observed in D-D fusion reactions. Instead, the approximately 24 MeV in energy resulting from D-D fusion was purported to appear as heat in the material lattice. To explain these unusual characteristics, the reviewers were presented with a theoretical framework that purported to describe how collective energy from the material lattice couples to a deuteron pair to induce fusion, how the only fusion reaction channel that occurs would be the production of 4 He, and how all the energy is coupled back into the material in the form of heat instead of high energy gamma-rays. The reviewers raised serious concerns regarding the assumptions postulated in the proposed theoretical model for the explanation for 4 He production.

Interesting that the theory ascribes stored energy from the lattice induces the fusion and then the generated energy transfers right back into the lattice in the form of phonons. In this explanation, I see dimly-lit card tricks played out to rubes1. At the very least, this violates an Occam's razor principle of never trying to ascribe a complicated explanation to something that can be explained by something more fundamental. Like maybe an anomalous chemical reaction?

1See the Intelligent Design Creationist Late-Night sweepstakes for more exposes of Rube Goldberg-ian elaborations.


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